Los Angeles Extends Homeless Emergency Amidst Calls for Transparency

The Los Angeles City Council unanimously votes to extend the homelessness emergency declaration, but frustrations mount over the lack of data and transparency in the program. Council members demand more information and reports to address the ongoing crisis.

In a unanimous decision, the Los Angeles City Council has extended Mayor Karen Bass’ emergency declaration for the city’s homelessness crisis. However, concerns are growing over the lack of transparency and available data regarding the program’s effectiveness.

The council had initially allocated $50 million for the program and requested bi-weekly reports on its progress, specifically targeting the effort to bring individuals in from encampments. However, these reports have been conspicuously absent, leading to frustration among council members and the public.

During the council meeting, Chief Administrative Officer Matthew Szabo provided some information on the program called Inside Safe. He mentioned that it had resulted in 1,205 placements and 15 encampment operations across several districts. Additionally, the city had organized 11 housing fairs to address the issue.

Szabo shared that Inside Safe had provided approximately 22,437 hotel-room nights across 25 hotels, with an estimated expenditure of $12.8 million. Out of this funding, $2.8 million was allocated to hotels, $6.4 million to extend the contract with the L.A. Grand Hotel for interim housing, and $3.2 million to service providers at the Grand Hotel.

According to Szabo, the work conducted since April 28 has resulted in $34 million in obligations for the homeless emergency account. The city is projected to spend around $44 million by June 30 to address the crisis.

Deputy Mayor for Housing Mercedes Marquez highlighted the efforts made by the city’s Planning Department to streamline approvals for affordable and permanent supportive housing projects. More than 15 projects have been approved in under 60 days following the mayor’s directives. In total, over 360 projects have qualified for streamlined processes, with more than 8,200 units currently being tracked.

Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez expressed frustration over the lack of reports, stating that this was only the second Inside Safe report in five months. She demanded further information about the program’s participants, their destinations, and the criteria for Inside Safe operations.

Marquez acknowledged the need for better data sharing and communication. She mentioned that the city, county, and the Los Angeles Housing Services Authority are working on developing modules to enter, verify, and present information to the council. The ultimate goal is to establish a comprehensive communication system that can share data on Inside Safe operations and other initiatives aimed at addressing the homelessness crisis.

Responding to the concerns raised by council members and their call for transparency, the council requested that the Chief Administrative Officer’s office provide additional information and reports to address the lack of data and improve accountability within the program.

As the homelessness crisis persists in Los Angeles, the demand for transparency and effective solutions remains a top priority for both city officials and the public.